New Partnership to Support Students with Special Needs

Thanks to a $22,000 grant from AllOne Charities, Holy Cross High School and the NEPA Center for Independent Living have formed a pilot partnership to ensure that special-needs students get the best hands-on educational experience possible.

Shown at the AllOne Charities check presentation to Catholic schools are, from left: Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools; Jason Morrison, Diocesan Secretary of Catholic Education/Chief Executive Officer; John Cosgrove, Executive Director, AllOne Foundation & Charities; the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton; and Sandra Snyder, Diocesan Grant Writer.

Four students in Holy Cross’s Individualized Instruction program will directly benefit from this grant by attending a specialized program at NEPA CIL that will help them develop the critical life and practical skills that will best position them for post-graduation success in the workplace. These students suffer from various health-related conditions and challenges.

“AllOne Charities is pleased to serve as a partner in the innovative and collaborative work between Holy Cross High School and the NEPA Center for Independent Living,” said John Cosgrove, executive director of AllOne Foundation & Charities. “There is so much more we can achieve together in improving the access to quality programming for our friends and neighbors with special needs.”

Diocesan Secretary for Catholic Education Jason Morrison recognized AllOne Charities’ commitment for enhancing access to special-needs programs for Catholic school students.

“We are grateful to AllOne Charities for the generous support of our students with exceptionalities,” he said. “This gift achieves our goal of ensuring that all students achieve their God-given potential and are prepared for life beyond the classroom.”

Diocesan Catholic schools currently offer four separate Individualized Instruction programs for students with special needs. At the elementary level, these students can attend Good Shepherd Academy in Kingston or All Saints Academy in Scranton, and at the secondary level they can attend Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre or Holy Cross High School in Dunmore.

Partnerships such as these supplement the personal attention and support students are able to receive and ensure that those attending Catholic schools are receiving a complete range of services tailored to their unique needs.

“By holding students to high expectations, individuals acquire the academic, functional, and social skills necessary to live as active members of society and stewards of God’s creation,” said Doreen Dougherty, principal of Holy Redeemer High School. “Families gain an invaluable support system in close relationships formed with other families. Students grow to respect and appreciate the gifts God has given each of us.”

Holy Cross Cross Country Runner Kevin Jumper is Performer of Year

By Steve Svetovich

All Region Holy Cross cross country runner Kevin Jumper came into this season with plenty of challenges and expectations. 

And the Holy Cross senior scholar-athlete rose to the head of the table far ahead of the pack.

After winning all seven meets in the Lackawanna League Division III regular season, he was named Times-Tribune performer of the year.

Son of Colleen and Joe Jumper, he won the District 2 Class 1A title in 16:53 helping Holy Cross repeat as team champions. He placed second in the state in Class 1A PIAA Championships at 16:54. 

With the graduation of Andrew Healey, last year’s boys Runner of the Year, Jumper was expected to become the top runner for the Crusaders. 

As a junior at Holy Cross, he finished second to Healey in districts and earned a state medal by placing seventh in Class 1A. He was an All Regional selection last year.

“I knew I had a shot at repeating as All Regional,” said Jumper. “I knew it would be a challenge, but I focused on my own training and things went as planned.”

Alex Higley is the cross country coach at Holy Cross. “He teaches us a lot about the mental side of things,” said Jumper. “He teaches us to not take things too seriously and to stay relaxed and have fun.”

The talented senior said he has learned a lot from his parents too.

“My parents tell me not to stress out and enjoy what I am doing. They tell me to appreciate the love that comes my way.”

Jumper shook off the pressure and won all seven of Lackawanna League Division III meets by an average margin of 33 seconds. He set the school record of 16 minutes, 34 seconds against Dunmore at McDade Park this past September 24. 

The four-year cross country runner will also be starting his fourth season on the Holy Cross track and field team this year. He runs the 3,200 and 1,600 and the 4 by 800 relay. 

A member of the National Honor Society at Holy Cross, he is a member of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science and the History Club. His best subject is Math and he has an impressive 3.9 grade point average. He is also a two-year member of the Holy Cross swimming team. 

The stalwart runner said he is not sure where he will attend college, but wants to major in business administration and finance and continue his cross country and track and field career. 

He talked about his future goals. “I want to go to a good college, continue running, do well in school and graduate. Then I may want to become a financial advisor.”

The All Regional Performer of the Year talked about what is takes to excel in cross country on the high school level. 

“You need discipline and need to love the grind of getting out there everyday. You need to focus on preparation and repetition.” 

At the District 2 Championships at Wyoming County Fairgrounds, he captured the District 1A individual title in 16:53 as Holy Cross repeated as Class 1A team champions. 

At the PIAA Championships in Hershey, he placed second in the state in Class 1A in 16:54 which was 12 seconds behind two-time state champion and University of North Carolina commit Colton Sands of Penns Valley. 

Jumper said he would like to see Khalid, a rhythm and blues pop artist, in concert. 

He has enjoyed his experience at Holy Cross immensely. “All of the teachers and kids are always willing to help out in any way,” he said. “There is the perfect mix of athletics and academics here at Holy Cross. It is all I could ask for.” 

Holy Cross Players in Learning Stages as Football Resumes

By Steve Svetovich

After a one year suspension due to lack of participation, Holy Cross head football coach Dave Gatto build together enough players to field a team this season.

“Nobody figured we would be playing this year, but we are,” said coach Gatto, now in his third year as Crusader head football coach after serving four years an an assistant.

There are 21 players on the Holy Cross roster this season, with only a five-game schedule due to COVID-19. 

“We are expecting a couple more players to join the team,” said Gatto. “Most of the guys who came out for this year’s team never played before. We have only two seniors, eight juniors, seven sophomores and four freshmen. We were trying to get to 19 or 20 players to field a team and we did. 

Holy Cross coach Dave Gatto

“It is going to be a learning experience.”

Coach Gatto is assisted by Vince Coviello, Chris Coviello, Joe Giorgio, Jake Gatto, T.J. McDonnell and Jim Talarico. 

“I have a great coaching staff.” 

Holy Cross lost its first game of the season, 56-7, to powerhouse Lackawanna Trail, Friday, Oct, 2, at Clinton Township.

Holy Cross scored late in the contest on a two yard touchdown burst by Wyett Walchak. A Logan Tierney 39-yard kickoff return set the Crusaders up at the Lackawanna Trail 35. A personal foul penalty aided the touchdown drive. Walchak booted the extra point.

The Crusaders will play another powerhouse, Old Forge, Saturday, October 10. Holy Cross will finish the short season against Montrose, Holy Redeemer and Susquehanna.

Junior Sean Herbert, who never played football before this season, is the team’s quarterback. “He’s a good athlete and a smart kid,” said Gatto. “He can move and he’s learning a lot. He never played before, so we are happy for him.”

Herbert worked out on conditioning and lifting with the football team last season before the decision was made to not field a team for 2019. 

He worked out on his own getting ready for 2020 and even served as a recruiter getting enough other students to suit up this season in order to field a team.

Other players on the team include senior lineman Robert Kane, senior fullback/linebacker Brandon Ludovici, junior wide receiver Zach Luciani, junior linemen Nick Cabets, Matt Tucker and Gurpreet Lahl, junior backs Gavyn Grems and Cameron Moczulski, sophomore tight end/middle linebacker Tierney, sophomore two-way tackle Andrew Naim, sophomore center Vince Tananna, sophomore guard Cody Schoonover, sophomore running backs Walczak and Fred Strein, sophomore tight end Bobby Staples, freshman tackle Chris Petrucci and freshmen receivers Kevin Whelen, Connor Art and Brandon Art.

Holy Cross continues to play its home games at Monsignor Crotti Field at Saint Anthony’s Playground, Dunmore.

Holy Cross has a male enrollment of 109 students.

“We re a very young team,” said coach Gatto. “Most of these kids never played football before, but they really wanted to play. They are willing to learn. 

“We were willing to throw them into the water. The attitude has been great so far. Our first two opponents are extremely tough, but we feel the team will be very competitive the final three games.

“We are a small school. Last season, a few of the seniors left. The perfect storm hit us and knocked us out, so we could not field a team. 

“Our principal, Ben Tolerico, was in favor of us fielding a team this year. We put a team of 21 together and expect a couple more. So we have something going for now and the future here at Holy Cross. And the enthusiasm and attitude has been great. They are learning week by week.” 

Holy Cross plays in the Lackawanna Football Conference Division IV.